“MN Original”: TPT spotlights the arts


On April 8 Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) previewed their MN Original series, a new weekly program that will showcase Minnesota artists. Funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, made possible by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment which Minnesota voters approved in 2008, the programming will premiere on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. on TPT2.

The weekly segments will have no host, but will rather be narrated by the artists themselves. They will focus on process, and what informs artists’ work, according to producer Dianne Steinbach. The program will cover established as well as emerging artists, and will seek to show diversity in terms of both artform and culture.

For the most part, the artists won’t be paid for appearing on the program, with the exception of musicians playing in the studio. However, Steinbach said that artists will benefit because of the broad reach that TPT has. “We’re able to spread the good news about the arts and share it with a very large audience,” Steinbach said.

In a statement in TPT Magazine, TPT president James Pagliarini writes that it is remarkable that despite the rough economic times, Minnesotans decided to make arts, culture and the environment a priority. He quotes Winston Churchill, who replied to a suggestion from a member of Parliament that the Ministry of Culture should be eliminated as a cost-save measure: “I thought that’s what we were fighting for.”

The half hour television program also has a companion Web site, mnoriginal.org, which is already live. The Web site will feature web exclusives and downloadable arts education activities for teachers. Organized by genre, the website will feature artists showcased on the program. Artists featured on MN Original will have their Web site and social media sites linked from the Web site. They are also developing an app where citizen arts patrons will be able to submit pictures and videos to the website.

“We want to be a resource for the Minnesota artist community,” director Chuck Olsen said. “We’re kind of a Hulu for Minnesota arts.”

For a preview of what’s to come, see the MN Original Facebook page, Tumblr blog, Flickr account, Twitter account, and YouTube channel.

Currently TPT has around 600 artists in their database, a number that they hope to increase. Artists who wish to be considered for MN Original programming may submit links and work samples to mnoriginal@tpt.org.